We’ve Predicted the Biggest Food Trends You’ll See in 2022
What will we all be cooking and eating this year? Chewy foods, underground take-out, coffee alternatives and so much more.
By Leah Brickley for Food Network Kitchen
So much has changed in the past two years. The worldwide pandemic disrupted so much and presented so many new daily challenges — but also opportunities to reconnect with your kitchen. You may be a more confident cook now with a broader, more refined palate. You mastered sourdough, sowed seeds in window gardens, made silly mini pancake cereal and even caused a national shortage of feta to satisfy a viral pasta itch. But many of you also took a serious stand for racial and social equality, and joined the fight for the food sovereignty of marginalized BIPOC communities who are reclaiming and owning their food systems. And you felt the pulse of our weakened planet. All this while you juggled the bowling pins of your own life, plus dealing with food shortages and supply chain issues and cooking fatigue. If you haven’t already, take a deep breath, slowly inhale and exhale. We’ll wait.
When we set out to research our food and beverage trends for 2022 we went deep and considered what your lives (and ours!) are like now. We know you may be cooking a lot (still), snacking throughout the day, relying on food to help elevate your mood, inviting new flavors and textures to your palate, creating new beverage rituals and choosing products that are better for the planet. Here’s what we are excited about in 2022 — we sincerely hope you will be too.
Beyond basic mustard and mayo.
Whether or not you cook, grab take-out or wait for delivery, 92% of American families plan to continue and even increase at-home dining. If you’re committed to eating your meals at home then remember — cooking fatigue is a real thing. As your enthusiasm in the kitchen naturally ebbs and flows, take note of all the exciting condiments just waiting to smother your go-to mac n’ cheese. The options will be endless thanks to big food companies leaning into more bold and diverse flavors, and the online foothold small-batch makers gained during the last 2 years. We love the spicy crunch of Pura Macha’s Salsa Macha (so does Cheesecake Factory). Kewpie’s Roasted Sesame and Yuzu Dressing is sharp and rich and Trader Joe’s Yemeni Zhoug sauce is herbaceous like pesto with addictive heat from chilies. All three could make a special slather for a simple roast chicken or dress-up a basic grain bowl. There’s no shame in relying on condiments to do some heavy lifting — so buy a caddy and find some favorites.
The New Green Kitchen
Your home’s frontline for environmental stewardship.
An eco-friendly lifestyle can start right in your kitchen. A recent Lending Tree survey found that 55% of consumers are willing to spend more on environmentally-friendly products. Thankfully the gap in price between conventional and newer, greener products is shrinking. Stasher makes reusable/resealable/non-toxic silicone storage bags that replace single-use plastic bags, and a portion of sales goes straight to high-impact nonprofits that are dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating our oceans. (Check out our guide to more affordable reusable bags.) Did you know that 21% of landfill is food waste — yikes! Composting is one way to help, but historically it’s been a bit of a slog: turning heavy compost piles and schlepping kitchen scraps to a central drop-off location. Lomi by Pela is the first official countertop composter that promises to break that model by converting scraps into nutrient-rich soil in 24 hours. You can then use the output on your houseplants, yard or garden. The company is taking $299 preorders for a February 2022 delivery. Combating food waste is something we take seriously at Food Network: we composted more than 2000 gallons of organic material from the set of Beat Bobby Flay in just the 30th and 31st seasons combined.
Food you can only get through DMs.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020 nearly 8 million restaurant workers were out of work. Thankfully most states jumped to loosen restrictions so individuals could sell "cottage foods" (products made in a home kitchen) directly to customers. The essential (and creative) income made all the difference for some like Eric Huang (a recent judge on Throwdown with Michael Symon) who saved his family’s Queen’s restaurant Pecking House by transitioning to direct-message ordering of their spicy fried chicken through Instagram. They have now outgrown the platform and there’s an online waitlist for ordering plus very limited in-house dining. Expect to see more food businesses use social media platforms to navigate outside the conventional restaurant structure. We love plant-based soul food you can only order through DM or text from The Tatted Face Chef in New Orleans — Chef David posts the menu daily (cauliflower wingz are popular) on his Instagram account and pick-up locations vary.
Fish out of water.
Humans are finally understanding that our oceans are in serious trouble. Documentaries like Chasing the Thunder (2021) from Discovery+ highlights the dangerous environmental and human costs of illegal fishing. According to a British Columbia-based marine biologist, "sustainable is not a reliable term anymore" when it comes to seafood. And the Yale Center for Environmental Communication can confirm that aquaculture has not been the salvation everyone had hoped for: farmed tilapia and catfish combined cause the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as beef (!). Enter plant-based seafood which saw a 23% boost in sales in 2020 and continues to grow. The options are impressive both in taste and texture, all could be considered ocean-inspired products and don’t have the fishiness often associated with the real thing. There’s fish-free tuna and crab cakes from Good Catch and very convincing shrimp from The Plant-Based Seafood Company. And look out for cellular-based (that means lab-grown, not plant-based) sushi-grade fish this year — Wild Type is close to launching their salmon.
Grocery Loyalty Pays
Did someone say perks?
Welcome to the brave new world of grocery shopping. We’re filling our fridges and pantries with groceries that were hand-shopped (by you or by someone else via an app) or ordered online and shipped or delivered. And many of those items — basics like eggs, bread and chicken breasts — are getting more expensive because of supply chain issues and inflation. With grocery items increasing up to 3.5% would you pay an annual membership to get extra benefits? National chains like Walmart and regional stores such as Kroger and Albertson’s are hoping the answer is yes. They’re reshaping loyalty rewards programs to entice you to stay true to a brand. All three offer yearly memberships for $99 or less. Ubiquitous perks include free shipping and delivery, digital coupons, rewards and points for discounts on gas and groceries, and access to apps that streamline ordering. Then there’s unique bonuses like savings on prescriptions with Walmart+, a monthly Starbucks coupon with Albertson’s Fresh Pass or double gas points using Kroger’s Boost membership. All designed to save you money and precious time.
It’s 420 Somewhere
Cannabis will be everywhere.
Cannabis (aka marijuana, mary jane, reefer, weed, pot) doesn’t have the stigma it had 5 years ago. People have quietly been eating pot brownies since the 70s and the world’s first legal recreational cannabis shop opened its doors in 2014 in Colorado. It’s sought after for the compound THC (which is psychoactive) and has mood-altering effects. Even though formal federal regulations of THC in food and beverages are not finite, that hasn't stopped food companies from adding it to products or chefs and bakers from experimenting with different kinds of buds in their dishes. Currently you can order and eat a THC-drizzled pie at Stoned Pizza in NYC or order a custom cannabis cake from Chicago’s Wake-n-Bakery. There are THC-spiked snacks and a non-alcoholic spirit and the 420 Cannabis Cookbook from chef Raul Medina to be released sometime in late 2022. Finding the right dose for you can be tricky, so as these products and dishes roll out be sure to always know how many milligrams of THC are in each serving.
On purpose (and it’s delicious).
We’re not talking about chewy, overdone steak, but rather intentionally chewy food that requires trained jaw muscles — like for the tapioca pearls in bubble tea. This revered texture in Asia has been totally unappreciated in America — until now, thanks to cultural culinary influence on social media and accessibility of ingredients. The continuum of chew goes further than boba: mochi ice cream (chewy) to rice cakes in dishes like tteokbokki (chewier) all the way to the chewiest of the chewy: beef tendon. My Mochi ice cream are small chewy-creamy treats and rank among the top 20 novelty foods in the US. Fill Bakeshop in Costa Mesa, California put The Mochi Cookie™ (and donut) into the feed of over 50K Instagram followers and the NYC newcomer Kimika (an Italian-Japanese restaurant) gifted us with crispy rice cake lasagna — 100% proof that we need more chewy food in our lives.
Your AM brew is on shaky grounds.
Coffee plants have not had a great few years: rising global temperatures and extreme weather has caused so much damage that harvests have been affected. You may have noticed the price pinch at your home coffee station or at your local coffee shop because of limited supply of beans — as of October 2021 coffee prices were at a 30-year all time high. What might be less obvious is the ever increasing alt coffee category; beverages that are caffeine-free (or mostly caffeine-free) with a robust coffee-like flavor. We love Teeccino’s Caramel Dandelion Nut roasted herbal tea which comes in single-serve tea bags. The ritual of brewing coffee can live on with Crio Bru 100% ground cacao — brew as you would real coffee in a French press, pour over or automatic drip. Or get your cozy fix with golden milk — a sunny-yellow caffeine-free beverage served hot and loaded with turmeric and other spice friends. Expect to see this category rise along with coffee prices.
Allergy-Friendly Food for Kids
Fed up parents advocate (and create) for their kids.
There are currently 32 million Americans with food allergies. Many of them are children; 1 in 13 kids has at least one food allergy (that’s about 2 kids per classroom). With numbers like that you’d think the grocery shelves and cases would be full of options but they aren’t. Parents of children with food allergies didn’t wait for large food companies to make safe, allergy-friendly foods for their kids. These industrious folks made it themselves and now more than ever we can find the fruits of their labor at grocery stores and online. There’s Christine Allen who started the 100% allergen-free and vegan bakery Mo’Pweeze after she couldn’t find treats in stores for her 4-out-5 kids with food allergies. Partake Foods’ allergy-friendly cookies and mixes are sold online. Founder Denise Woodard, started baking for her daughter who’s had severe food allergies since infancy. Advocates in the allergy-free world have even created Spokin, an app with its own verification standards. It’s database includes thousands of food products, restaurants and bakeries that are allergy-friendly. And the community is involved — there are over 70K user comments across 80 countries. Look for more allergy-friendly products and restaurant dishes in the coming year, perhaps with some universal labeling.
Eating to Support Mental Health
Good mood food.
You may have joined the 44% of Americans that focused on improved mental and emotional wellbeing these past 2 years — perhaps you turned to food and drink for help like one-quarter of this group did. If not, then get ready for an explosion of functional food and drinks that claim to help forge the food-emotion-mind connection. Options for products that promise replenishment, happiness and improved cognition will be endless. Take it all in with a grain of salt, accepting that a new healthy ritual of sipping a "wellness tonic" is just a piece of the whole wellness puzzle. Packed with 2000 mg of herbalist-validated herbs (4 times more than an herbal tea bag) Sunwink drinks offer detox, recovery and immunity —depending on the bottle. And be sure to tune into Simply Giada, the new show hosted by Giada De Laurentiis that’s inspired by her book Eat Better, Feel Better. Giada shares light and fresh meals along with tips for mindful eating and some of her own personal self care routine.
The culinary leaders you need to know.
Consider this an overdue (which is an understatement) and initial spotlight on just a few of the many Native and Indigenous chefs, activists, farmers, historians, makers and educators who are teaching us that food sovereignty is essential. This is especially true for underrepresented and marginalized groups: owning every step of their food system is the only way to ensure that Native and Indigenous foodways are preserved and revered appropriately. Expect to see an enthusiastic interest in the amazing food Indigenous and Native chefs are sharing. We particularly admire Crystal Wahpepah, chef and owner of Wahpepah’s Kitchen in Oakland, Ca. The first Native American chef to compete on Chopped, Crystal wants to educate the public about the health benefits of Native foodways. Her seasonal menus have included dishes like Blue Corn Waffles (made from Ute tribe-grown blue corn) and Buffalo Kebabs served with Chokecherry Sauce. Then there’s Minneapolis’ Sean Sherman, Founder and CEO Chef of The Sioux Chef and newly opened restaurant Owamni — a modern indigenous full-service establishment — that rests on Dakota land near the Mississippi River. You won’t find any colonized ingredients (wheat flour, dairy, chicken for example) on a menu with dishes like Bison Tartare and Open-face Corn Sandwiches. And sourcing Indigenous-produced ingredients for home will be more accessible with new marketplaces like Tocabe, an American Indian Eatery and online shop.
Ice Cream Snacks
They’re not just for dessert.
The disruption of our work and home life — permanent remote meetings, back to commuting and new hybrid schedules — also changed our eating habits. We’re snacking more than ever and the definition of what a snack is and when snacking should happen is evolving with our new daily rhythms. So, if you find yourself drawn to the freezer section for a snack fix you’re not alone — 59% of consumers said they have purchased frozen desserts as a snack. And we’re not talking about scoop and serve ice cream rather individually wrapped, hand held frozen novelty treats that aren’t heavier on the calories than other snacks. We love Revolution’s plant-based mini gelato pie; the classic vanilla is 260 calories per pie — on par with a big snack. Dreyer’s Mini Drums (a baby Drumstick) are only 70 calories per cone and the very poppable and vegan Dream Bites (coconut milk-based frozen ice cream with a hard-candy shell) are 100 calories and only 5 grams of sugar for a 1/3 cup. Look out for an explosion of snackable ice cream treats throughout the year.